Flood meadows in York, which are the last UK stronghold for the tansy beetle, have been confirmed as Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The ancient flood meadows of Clifton Ings and Rawcliffe Meadows, to the north of York, have been safeguarded because of the rare species-rich grassland and because it is home to the critically endangered tansy beetle – an iridescent green beetle which relies almost entirely on the tansy plant Tanacetum vulgare for its entire life cycle in England.
Tansy beetles have been noted at Clifton Ings since Victorian times and it is thought that a stretch of the River Ouse, which runs adjacent to the site supports the last known population of this species in the British Isles.
The site has an unusually large area of intact floodplain grassland that has avoided fragmentation or agricultural improvement. The Ings also play a vital role in flood management in the area and are used as temporary flood stores during times of high flow in the River Ouse.
David Shaw, area manager for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire at Natural England, said: “It is fantastic to confirm Clifton Ings and Rawcliffe Meadows as a SSSI as it protects a large area of rare habitats and species so close to the thriving city of York.”
Steven Kirman, communications officer at the Environment Agency, also welcomed the news.
“This is great news for the tansy beetle as well as many other important species of plants, birds, animals and insects,” he said.